Little Black: A Fairy Born out of an Eggshell

A Story by Lizzie Thompson

Chapter One: The Arrival of our Very Fairy Princess

April 1, 2020

 “That’s what I want to do!” She said. “I want to see this place you are talking about.” 

All of a sudden she was coming to life, after having been half-dead in my shiny kitchen sink a few minutes ago. She appeared shortly after I got a package in the mail. In the package, there was a soft white egg shaped container full of vitamin E. I asked my roommate what she thought about the Vitamin E, and if I should take the whole thing, “NO,” she said, “a little at a time.” That sounded right. A little at a time.

Next thing I knew, I was at the sink with a black mouse that seemed half dead. Was she dying or just coming to life? I wasn’t sure if I wanted her to live. But it seemed as if she was just starting to move her pale little mouse feet and come to life after being in that egg. 

This is a dream by the way. And I followed the best dream logic that I knew. I sprinkled water from the tap gently over the little black mouse in the sink. I could see as it turned over to face me that it was wearing a wooden crown or headband. I took that off so it wouldn’t pinch her little head, and she spoke! “Oh that feels better,” she said. And I took off another piece on her head too. Now she looked more like a little girl the size of a mouse. But still a mouse. Was it my imagination, or was she wearing a dress? 

The strange thing is that I had been told about having “a child born out of an eggshell” the day before by an Oracle. I’d been waiting to give birth for some time and really hadn’t known where to begin. But my husband and I had said we’d try in April. Really try. And I had gone to bed picturing what a child born out of an eggshell might look like. I had imagined a little boy. And here was both a mouse and a fairy girl. 

It’s hard to make out the apartment in the dream, and my roommate was no where in sight to help explain about the mouse. And the package certainly didn't come with any instructions. But here was a little live being, a wild creature, an animal in my mind, and somehow a girl. I told her where I thought she could live – in the forest outside the house. It seemed natural she would need to go outside. And all this was completely new to her. She was wide eyed and fascinated. I had to explain what the forest was and tell her there were some dangers there too of course. 

“I want to go there!” she said again. And I was as excited as she was to introduce her to a new world. 

It didn’t seem right to name this being, this mouse princess. I’d have to let her find her way and her own name in time. So I invited her to climb into my hand. And from the sink I held her gently to my chest, and we walked outside for the first time. 

Little Black, I can at least call her that, she came at a very very very unusual time in our life. I cannot overestimate that. After living at a breakneck pace and constantly fearing the collapse of life as we knew it, the world finally came to a sort of stop. We called it a quarantine. A virus called C-19 was spreading around the world. And like dominoes, taking everything with it. Most everyone decided we could not have any contact with each other so that we would not spread it any more. We must keep to ourselves. This part is not a dream. It’s real. 

My husband lived on the other side of town temporarily because he was helping his students in the dorm, the ones who couldn’t go home. One of the students had come to live with me for a little while, and she had become like my roommate. Neither of them was with me when I took Little Black out of the house and down the street, unseen because everyone kept their distance, and into the woods on the walking path. 

I thought Little Black might like the fairy fort the local kids had built out of fallen limbs and sticks but she was swallowed up by it’s size and the effect was lost on her. Finally we have a live fairy and what to do with her, I thought to myself? I kept walking till I found a quiet place with a lot of ferns and moss and ephemerals (those are the little low lying flowers that grow on the ground in the spring.) 

Then I knelt down and put Little Black on the earth for the first time. She sniffed and sniffed joyfully at all the moist earth and the flowers and plants and finally found herself against the trunk of the tree and asked nervously, “What animal is this?” I explained about trees and invited her to explore the bark and roots. After a while of looking and smelling and feeling, she sat up and asked about what she was hearing. “What’s that tinkling sound?” 

I took her over to the little stream shining in the sun, sparkling as it ran over stones and shiny mud. “Oh!” she said. I told her she could even sip some of the water to drink and she was beyond amazed with it all. After a while, she came up beside me and lay down to rest. Then we both took a nap in the sun after all the surprises of our first big adventure. 

I woke up from the nap with Little Black and felt what I had been feeling since she first spoke to me in the sink. She is so sweet I thought, with something like warmth, like love, like awe. 

And then before I knew anything more, the cold came. It had been a mild winter, but there had been cold spells and snow. With spring and everything changing around us so quickly, I had forgotten about the ice, the cold that shuts everything down. So when the wind came through our clothes and hair to let me know that winter was not done yet, I shuttered and froze up inside again. 

Little Black shivered and looked up at me. I stared blankly, wondering what to do now. 

“You’ve just found this new world and you can stay if you want, but it’s probably going to be pretty cold tonight,” I said. 

I was torn. Something was just born. Little Black was out in the world. Our world. Now she was a part of it too. For a baby just born into this world in whatever state it is in, we must give this baby our good wishes. And that makes the world better for all of us. 

It was cold and time for dinner. “Do you want to stay here and enjoy the woods and find your dinner?” I asked. “Dinner?” She said. Well, just like you enjoyed the water, you will want something more to eat. Try out what smells good and tastes good. And see if you can find a warm protected place in the earth to rest. Or maybe you’ll look around and find some other mice. I don’t really know what you do in the dark. And I will come back in the morning and see what you have found. 

It felt strange to leave her there for the night. I knew she’d be prey and maybe not survive. But I wanted to let her try. And part of me wanted to stay there myself. I didn’t know where to sleep. The inside of the apartment seemed confining and dead from out here. But the dark outside world was cold and unfamiliar at night. 

Torn. Sad. Curious. Excited. I said goodnight and walked back to the apartment. It didn’t look the same and I wasn’t hungry. In a flash I remembered another small mouse. A baby mouse the cat brought into the yurt over the summer. Covered in saliva and not injured that we could tell. That baby got a name, Cher, and a bed in a box, and a mom, Mallory, and warm droppers of oats. That baby survived until one day she crawled out of her box and did not come back. She found her way to return to the jungle around us, to the unseen world behind the plants and flowers, to her place. I got out some oatmeal and made a small dinner. Eventually, I went to sleep. 

Chapter Two: What will we find together today? 

My name is Lizzie. I live in a blue house called Marigold. I live in the apartment upstairs, and it’s called Skye. It has so many windows and glass doors that it is like living up in the sky. Out of the windows, we see the treetops. Mostly, the trees are still bare, and occasionally, there’s the taller top of a pine. If you sit on the couch just right and look out the bathroom window, you can see a view full of green where a great tree just made its spring show. There’s something entirely different about looking out of a window full of green leaves. 

The way to our house is down a long dirt road that runs beside a creek. When you get to our driveway, there’s a big beautiful turquoise blue mailbox with a sunflower painted on it. Our neighbor downstairs with her eight-year-old daughter has a full house with two friends staying during the quarantine. The neighbor’s dog from across the road, Hekla, comes over a lot to walk and play and have her belly rubbed. Today, from the deck we could also see deer and a wild turkey. 

It’s April 2nd, 2020. It’s been windy up here in Skye. All day I’ve been thinking of Little Black. I finally go out at dusk to the trail, to the woods. It’s warmer today, with more sun. Little Black was waiting for me at the entrance to the trail and smiling. Her dress had a little more color and there was a new brightness in her cheeks. 

Just as I caught sight of Little B, my husband Arrow caught sight of me. By the time we had caught up and reconnected, it was April 3rd, Friday. 

Finally, we went back to the trail and there was Little! He didn’t see B at first. But then he did. And he stood and stared. She smiled sweetly as she does, waiting for him to take her in. Oh, she’s so beautiful he said! “You’re just as lovely as anything I’ve ever seen. What’s your name? My name is Arrow. I live across the stream over where there are all the buildings. I thought I’d find Lizzie here. She likes to come here this time of day.” He said. 

“I’m not sure yet what my name could be. Do I really need one?” she said. “I think I’m being called Little Black.” 

“A name is one way of knowing who you are and telling your friends how to call you. AND a name is what you make of it.” Replied Arrow. 

“And what are your names then? That seems to be the question to ask.” Said B. 

“Well, the name I go by most is Lizzie, but I have many names since I’m a Shape Shifter. I’ll explain about that later. Plus it’s one of those times when everything is changing and names are changing too I’m sure, and none of us really knows much about anything right now. Something is happening that is changing everything. And you are here now in a world that is pausing and hopefully restarting itself. I wonder what your name will be too?” I said, probably this was too much by way of an answer about a name. But it all fit together in my thinking. 

“And I’m called Arrow by Lizzie, but I have other names too.” Said Mr Husband. 

“I guess that’s what I’ll call you then.” said Little B. 

“We’re all here in the woods together.” I said. “So let’s take a walk.” 

“A walk?” said Little. 

“Yeah, we walk on this path and come out on the other side of town. Do you want me to carry you and you can see it with us?” 

“Yes, and I’ll show you what I found last night.” Said Little. 

We all walked a little ways as the sun was getting low and shining golden light through the trees. I pointed out favorite spots to Little. And finally she pulled on my hand and pointed to get down. She went over to some bushes and showed me a little nest that she’d found. She said she slept quite well! And that she was still getting used to all the new smells and things here. And the stars at night! She couldn’t believe the stars. It seemed like they didn’t have those where she came from. It was either much too light to see them or too dark altogether. She even saw a shooting star, despite the bright waxing moon. I was so happy to hear her good news and excitement. It seemed like she belonged here, and would have a lot of joy at what she found. 

Arrow and I started to see new things we hadn’t noticed before as she wondered out loud at all that she was taking in. Even though Little was just born here and had to learn our world, it was as if she’d come from another place where she knew many things. And she knew enough to know how to learn her way around a new place. As if she’d done it before, in other places. And somehow, her ease and joy made it seem as if we’d known her much longer. As if we’d been friends a long time. It was easy to love her and trust her and feel glad in her presence. 

That’s how it had been when I’d met Arrow. And I loved how he accepted Little right away, with no question. 

So what did we find that day in the forest? A new way of seeing with the help of each other. An unexpected friendship. And a great curiosity for all the possibilities to come. 

We walked back around to where Arrow was staying, and we said goodnight to him. Then B and I came back together on the trail as the day turned quiet and dark. B found her nest, and I came back to a bench and sat for a while enjoying the dark. Eventually, I headed back to my own bed and felt more peace than the days before. I was thankful for my “nest” and the shelter there. 

When I got home, my Roommate was content in her big comfy chair, sewing. I got out art supplies and started a collage at the kitchen table. I wasn’t surprised when I cut out a picture of a little black mouse and put it in, then later found a crown and added it for her, just the right size. 

Chapter Three: The Sink 

When I got up in the morning, I went into the kitchen and started making coffee. 

In these days of the virus, we’ve collectively entered a new rhythm of sorts. Today, it sort of feels like it does when you wake up at a group campsite. People around you wake up and rouse themselves in their own time. There’s no hurry and nothing to get to. That has it’s own freedom, plus the unhurried permission of nature not to rush it. There might be the sound of a person playing an instrument, learning a new tune or plunking away at something so familiar it’s like the grain in a beautiful hardwood. And others who chat quietly while breakfast is prepared. Some revive the night’s campfire and the smell of wood smoke blesses the surroundings. Children laugh and play, free in the outdoors. All of this was an amalgam of many good memories (the last time we  actually camped was six months ago) and a faint relaxed feeling that was present as I got up and started the day; my Roommate talking to a friend in her room, and my neighbor trying his hand at the guitar, and me putting on a kettle in the kitchen. None of us had anywhere to be exactly. We could be where we wanted to be in a different sort of way.

I remembered it was Saturday. That's hike day! I called up Arrow and we talked about where to hike and decided to meet in a few hours.. 

While the coffee was brewing, I became captivated by the sunlight reflecting off the stainless steel of the kitchen sink. And I thought back to the morning, just a few days ago, when I first found Little B there, a small black mouse barely moving. I considered how my dream could have brought her into the world anywhere, inside or outside, but it had “birthed” her out of the sink. The place where we prepare and clean up all that we use to nourish ourselves. The place that is the main source of water for what we drink. Our inside “water spring.” And in the dream, I used that water to bring Little Black to life. 

Later I got a chance to talk to Arrow about it, and wonder about it some more. “Why the kitchen sink, do you think?” I asked. And he brought to mind the saying, “Everything but the kitchen sink,” and how the kitchen sink holds “Everything.” 

“I guess it’s also like a womb then.” I said, “It can birth anything.” 

“And it’s like a hospital.” He added. 

“A hospital?” I wondered. 

“It’s like everything. It’s bigger than a womb. Everything.” He suggested. 

“But everything domestic.” I said. “Little B was born inside, but right away I needed to take her outside, into the wild, into nature. To really see her nature, I needed to take her outside. She does not live in the domestic world.” 

And this brought to mind an ever present question for me, how to be free, like the other creatures outside. I guess we have the freedom to live in many worlds. That is a different kind of freedom. We can live in the world of our minds, dreams, emotions, spiritual transcendence, domestic arrangements, work, play, and try to get a taste of the whole big outside. 

I wanted to see Little Black then. I didn’t know if she would think in these terms, but at least I could invite her out with us for the day on our hike. 

Arrow came over after breakfast and we filled our backpack then set out to see Little. 

I don’t know why it was a surprise, but it was. When we found her, she was sitting around the remnants of a little fire and talking to some other forest creatures. There were the ants, some songbirds, woodpecker, bees, a fox. She invited us to sit there and it was one of the best moments of my life so far. Talking with the animals in their language, not human words, but sounds and scratches, and notes of a song. We smiled and laughed in our own ways. And B was so happy to have brought us all together! 

I almost forgot about the hike, but eventually the other creatures wondered off to find food and I asked B about going on a hike. "Sure!" She said. I mentioned it would mean getting in a car. Another thing she didn’t know much about. And another world all it’s own. Our red ford fusion has seen more of the country than most cars. And it was content to take us a short ways down the road to a beautiful spot. We got out and decided on where to put little B so she’d be comfortable and have a good view. She went into the mesh pocket on the side of the backpack and settled in while we started down the trail. 

The trail began on an overlook of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The initial view pulled my sight into ridge after ridge of mountains, far out to the horizon. On the trail, sometimes we felt the easy rhythm of walking over a green hillside, other times we were moving through bare trees, a ground cover of last years’ brown leaves, and a narrow rocky path that had to be carefully trod. There were tiny wildflowers here and there, violet, yellow, or white/pink. Those ephemerals again. And often there were very glittery rocks and some sharp opaque milky quartz lining the path. I saw on the sign that the area was known and named for it’s clear quartz crystal that looks like a castle, but we didn’t find any. 

We met only a few uneasy stretches where Little B felt as if she were about to fall off the edge of a very steep down turning slope where the trail was very narrow. We eventually made it to a part of the trail where there are remnants of a past community near a stream.

My favorite places are usually the ones by a stream. I put my hands in the cool water and washed off some of the rocks I’d been gathering. We sat on a huge round boulder. I arranged the rocks and looked around while Arrow wrote some poems in his pocket notebook. Then we finally headed back up.

I think the combination of the terrain from the trail could make a good description of most of our recent days. Not too hair raising, sometimes beautiful, sometimes requiring extra special attention to stay on the path, and a beautiful stream nearby when needed. 

Which reminds me of the kitchen sink. And Everything that might be possible. 

We drove back to town and stopped by the town’s trail and B’s new home. After a day outside, I didn’t want to go back “in.” I asked B if I could camp with her. It seemed warm enough and she said, “YES!” I pulled the tent out of the trunk and Arrow decided he’d join us for the adventure. 

We also brought the last of our snacks. As we set up the tent, B went out and found her own dinner. When she came back, we had a nice little fire going and hot tea. She had a curious look on her face. She asked me to come see something with her. Not too far from us, at the base of some bushes were white teeth and claws and hair. I recognized them – here was the end of a local wild cat in our area. It’s a little larger than a bobcat and smaller than a cougar. And rare. It was hard to imagine what had happened to it here. And I was reminded of the possibilities in the night outside. Now I felt vulnerable to think of sleeping in the tent. I told Arrow when we got back, but he wasn’t phased. “I can’t see that we are in any danger,” he said. My rational mind agreed with him. 

But that night I had dreams of living inside a bedroom with a screen door and fears of a wild white cat ripping its claws through the screen and coming in. To do what? I don’t know. The fear was focused on some wild thing coming through that barrier of the door. It’s a recurring dream, sometimes with bear, sometimes with the big wild cats. Sometimes inside, sometimes outside. These are my animal totems and they want in. I wanted to block the screen door with furniture. 

Another part of the dream was like a flashback from childhood. My mom shared the bed and she had put out a large knife that hung over the bed like a talisman, but which I feared would fall and hurt us. There was also an ax standing up beside us. The metal was rusty. These were old ramparts and didn’t bring much comfort, only more fear. 

I woke up with the echo of those old fears. But when I went out of the tent, I was overcome with cool sweet morning air, bright green plants and trees, and surprisingly loud birdsong. The world was alive and beautiful. My fears felt old and stale compared to what was actually alive here. 

I found Little B playing by the stream, singing a song she made up, and she taught me some of the words: 

If you think this world is new, 

You’ll hear a song and laughter too. 

And if you see how this world is new 

You’ll come alive and feel it too. 

I went home in the morning after a long day and night outside. There i was looking at the kitchen sink again, empty and waiting for the world. 

 Chapter Four: Turtle, Feather, Headstone

What day is it? Monday, April 6th, I wondered. It's harder to keep track now. I woke up feeling like there were tasks to do. I had had a simple enough dream, but it was shocking. I was in a group with Barbara Kingsolver and another powerful woman with a long name that I can't spell. That I was about to be near these women that I revere was a shock.

As the day went on and I figured out things, there came news of more cancelled events for me and Arrow. The future is closing in on us as plans fall away. It's actually opening up, but it feels like a closing in.

By the afternoon I went to see B. It took a while to find her. She was sitting downstream, gazing thoughtfully at the water. "Hey," I said, and sat with her for a while. Both of us quiet.

"I wonder where all this water comes from?" she said.

"Isn't it wonderful to think of all the drops of water flowing together to eventually make this stream, then evaporate and flow back up in the air. Then come down again. Some going far underground. Some coming up from the ground. A big circular flow always moving, but out of sight."

"And there's more to it, like our feelings." she offered.

"That's very perceptive of you... some things this morning brought up emotions for me and it took a while for them to catch up and flow out."

"It did?" she asked

"Yeah, I worked on stuff I've been working on since my dad died, settling things for him and what he left behind. It's taking a while and eventually I get an impulse to do more. When I do that, I don't want anyone around me. And that's when I take a long walk. Do you want to take a walk?" I suggested.

"Hmmm, I'll just sit by the steam, it's so nice here."

"It really is," I agreed. "I'll see you in a little bit then."

I kept walking down the stream, thinking about the water flowing, some places more shallow than others. The greens and browns reflected in strange patterns. Or silvery rocks shining and white crystals sitting. I wondered how it looked to Little B.

As I walked, I noticed how tired I was. I thought about turning back, but it felt better and better to just walk. The sun came and went, and clouds - some puffy white, some dark grey. Cool in the wind, but warm and dry in protected spots. I found myself walking up a big hill and I sat on top for a long time. I eventually lay down with the ants and other little ones and looked up at the trees. I felt more connected then, like one of the trees, rooted in the ground. I got a surprise when I opened my eyes after a rest and saw vultures gliding close overhead and circling together in the distant clouds. Finally, I decided to head back and found the stream again.

Just as i was thinking the walk was "over," and I was back to a familiar track, I saw a fat vulture feather on the ground. I love seeing feathers and went over and picked it up to see more. I loved it. And as I looked at it, I noticed some yellow wild flowers I hadn't noticed before, just blooming. Some looked like wild orchids. I bent under branches to look closer. Then I looked over to the stream and saw the back end of a turtle looking strange in the water. I went over to the stream and squatted down by the turtle shell. It was the remains of a snapping turtle. It had been in the water so long, the shell was falling apart, and only the back half was intact. I pulled out the intact half, and the fallen tiles from the shell and spine, and tried to see how they'd fit together. Then I pulled out some stones to put with it and also placed the feather as a sort of marker or headstone, hoping I'd come back another day and see how it was all doing.

The strange thing was that when i got home for dinner, there was a text and message from my mom. She'd gotten a call that my dad's grave marker was ready. She'd driven up that morning to see it being placed and sent me a picture. There on my phone was a picture of my dad's headstone.

What a day.

Chapter Five: Completion

This week it's been hard to keep track of Little Black. There's been a slowing down past the new rhythm of quarantine into distress and overwhelm. Little things are hard to do. Big thunderstorm. Big Wind. Snow. Weather is the excitement and the punctuation. There's been a letting go. No more morning coffee. Still trying to get out and walk but it's very windy. One day, I felt there was no escape anywhere, inside or outside. But I found my way down to the river, wanting to scream the whole time. And looking for a path. My ankle hurt, still hurts. And I walked on a very steep hill by the river that I hadn't walked on before... I never really found the path or Little Black.

I did just sit down at one point as I tried to scale back down the hill. When my hands touched the earth, it was so soft and cool and forgiving. I just sat and looked around. The ground was covered in wildflowers of different sizes and shapes, most unfamiliar and unknown, having just moved here a few months ago. It was a good place to cry. After a while, I felt more of the calm of the place. Things simply were. I didn't feel like screaming any more. I felt amazed by the color and texture of leaves and moss and flowers.

Today is Easter. We've had our weekly town meetings by zoom but not much else is going on here. There's a plan to get together for crepes this morning down by the meadow and "keep our distance." Somehow it all feels like giving up. There's a feeling in the air of giving up. Not moving. Shutting down. Not doing. There's nothing we can force to happen right now. We cannot control this life. It's liberating in some ways, but also a complete defeat to some part of us.

Right at the beginning of all this, I birthed something. I wanted good wishes for Little B, and she met the forest and Arrow. She is a companion and own her own path. She is something pure and adaptive in me that is always there, even if she is out of sight. I feel curious about her and want to imagine what she's up to, but also want to let her be.

Dreams have been more about office and work. People. Last night, my new employer bought a suit for me and I was pleased with it and how it "suited" me - bright and colorful - with an echo of African design - especially the big earrings made to go with it. All that color. I could imagine Little B in the pocket there, ready for work.

 Chapter Six: Beaver Run

One morning I went to the creek to meditate. It was running high and fast from a big rain. I sat on the bank and watched the water feather and bend and ripple and move, sometimes with a small gurgle over a large rock downstream. With no announcement, suddenly there was a beaver walking down the opposite bank toward the water. I had never seen beaver and that fantastic tail! I was in awe. It gracefully entered the water like it'd known this run all it's life. Beaver moved downstream from bank to bank in a long zigzag and held it's head proudly out of the water. I couldn't believe I was getting to watch.

I was drawn back the next morning. I wanted Arrow to see beaver too. Arrow agreed to go with me, but when we got to the water at dawn, he was more intent on watching other things and missed the beaver. I got to see it twice. Maybe that's when things started to shift back to the magic of the water and it's creatures.

People are saying we made it through the "first wave" of the virus and the quarantine. Two people in our town were very sick. They said it was a struggle to do anything, especially breathe. They are finally feeling recovered after seven weeks. They said it takes seven weeks. No one here has died. They are sick still from other things, and we wonder when some will die. It's a strange thing wondering when sick people will die. We want to let go. We want them to stay. They want to try and be as well as possible. They also want to let go.

Now we are in the "second wave." It's like before, but there are more people wearing masks. We still only go out to buy groceries and to hike. Some nature trails are closed but a lot of people are there anyway - on horses, bikes, motorcycles, foot - congregating in the parking lot looking at fancy cars they are wanting to drive too fast. I just want to see the wildflowers that come out more and more each week. And everything else. Sometimes it's heavenly, everything being still and slow and unfolding at the rate of an early Appalachian spring.

Today, I met Little Black again. It's Tuesday, May 5th. She'd come by and left an invitation to the creek. She sensed that I was ready I guess. It's taken everything to adjust and adapt to some unseen force that has us in its deep transformation. Somehow adding time with Little Black didn't fit. But today I went down at the end of the day after working on some music stuff with Arrow and shopping and cooking. There's less to do, but we do it more intently. Cooking becomes a big project where we find out how elaborate we can be with what we make "by hand, from scratch." There was another rain this morning that kept us inside most of the day. Since we've been planting the garden, God has been doing the watering at a pretty steady pace. Around five o'clock the weather was clear and I headed out.

Soon I saw Little B at the entrance to the trail. She quickly took my hand, having grown about a foot, and practically ran down the trail and down the hill toward the creek. There was a good bit of mud. After the rain the mud takes on a different puckered shape with sand, or just reveals its truest nature: slick and dark. Some of the hill was washed away and I tread very carefully. Little Black was in a hurry, or just moving with the energy of a youth, and wanted to show me that she'd been very busy. She chided that I was moving like an old lady. She was easily gliding and sliding along the mud and grabbing onto trees and sticks to keep steady. I was deliberate and delicate, not wanting to get muddy, watching easy step and using a walking stick. I wanted to stop and see everything along the way and take it in, but there was no time and Little was already way ahead pointing out this and that.

Down along the creek where it runs out of sight from the trail, and flows higher from a spring fed pond, there was very small furniture, both indoor and outdoor. Little B showed me the furniture, paths, a pond she created, a bridge that got washed away by the rain, a beach, a kayak run, a larger pond, and plans for more, even a water slide. Little Black was growing fast! She was about knee high to me now and had found a friend close to her age to build and play with. Her friend was away for the day and there were just the two of us there to explore. I could see how everything was the right size for her and how strange and big and old and out of place I felt. And I was also full of love for all of it. And aware of a distant memory when I could play like this myself.

The really strange thing that I can't make sense of is the story Little told me on the way home. She herself found a baby mouse, so young it's eyes were still closed. She and her friend tried to feed it and figure out how to care for it. They finally ended up leaving it near where she found it for the night, and it was gone the next day. She said she missed it very much and thought it was probably dead to a snake. There was a sense of regret that she could not or would not do more. I asked if she'd named him? "I think his name was Shadow," she said.

What a strange echo. Another baby mouse found, but this one disappeared. A loss. of Shadow? Is naming a mouse Shadow anything like Little Black?

         Chapter Seven: Shadow

"I miss shadow," said Little. She was referring to her found mouse friend who disappeared after the first day. "I know," I said. "What was he like?" 

"He was black and grey and stayed in the shadows so we couldn't see him. that's why we called him Shadow."

It's already May 26th. Little and I had been all over town, park, outer woods, and the creek where she lived on our walks. The town was starting to open up and we were going around to more places. And nature was shifting too, fewer wildflowers and more and more shapes and shades of green. But then we'd see something like the bright yellow and orange wild azaleas, which we call the orange blossom special, in the midst of all the green and ohh and ahh for minutes before continuing on. We'd seen all kinds of creatures and critters: racoon, beaver, otter, red fox, squirrel, chipmunk, blue bird, woodpecker, scarlet tanager, yellow tanager, bunny rabbit running with her cotton tail, grey cat, Hekla the female canine, wild turkeys, turkey feathers, vulture, vulture dropping a feather, and the amazing baby fawns and their mothers. Now the 17-year cicadas were just coming out of their brown shells and testing their wings. When one appeared on my shoulder without me hearing it land, I was a little spooked. Little laughed and laughed at my startled scream.

Today, I found a small brown snake, already dead, and Little Black had come over to see it. She reminded me about missing Shadow. Of course she could want a mouse friend, being part mouse herself. She even said, "I'd really like a pet mouse!" I wonder when she will meet another mouse? She seems to meet all the forest creatures and make friends right away. She just goes out and talks to anyone she meets. Her smile makes the world light up. Animals, people, all of us.

While she explores, the world changes before our eyes. All the plans people used to make, that's changed. There are no big events and won't be for some time. People are tentative to go out and not sure if they have the virus or will have it. We live in a shadow of our world. At the same time, we might have a chance to re-envision the things that weren't working. If we stay awake and pay attention. But pay attention to what? I'm choosing more time outside and less time talking about stuff we are supposed to be doing to make us feel important or useful.

One day I started talking to Little Black about synchronicity. Right away she knew what I meant. Things just happen for her, she pops up here or there, and figures out as she goes where she needs to be. Maybe she never quite knows the "why"  of it, maybe she stopped asking about "why" a long time ago. And that makes it possible for her to go, to shapeshift, to grow. Now she's learning about being a mouse girl. For a mouse, she certainly does not live in the shadows.

I told her about a huge white and orange crystal rock I saw on the side of the road that the rain washed up. It was just like her to be excited to go with me to pick it up. We drove in Arrow's car and went down the gravel lane out of town and toward the forest and country where all the cows are. I parked and got out my shovel and went over and pulled up the stone. It was very heavy, but I was just able to lift it, and Little was waiting in the car with excitement when I brought it back and put it in the passenger side floor.

We drove back listening to silly music and making up even sillier lyrics. Then we went to a place we'd been creating together near the creek. It's a medicine wheel marking the four directions. It's where we put all the special things we find like skulls and shells and feathers and rocks. And it's where we remember to be thankful for the forces of life that make life whole: air, water, fire, earth. These simple elements hold profound power and a kind of truth that cannot be altered, no matter what we crazy humans come up with. Just being there with the medicine wheel helps me feel better and stronger. We took the new crystal stone and place it standing behind the wheel. The stone feels like a new presence watching over like a grandmother or grandfather.

That's when we first saw Crow Dancer. At first, it was hard to make her out as she moved around above in the leaves. Eventually, she came and landed on the stone. We both knew her for what she was immediately, one of us, shapeshifter.

Chapter Eight: Mighty Spirit

It's Saturday, July 18th. There are large stands of clover along the road by the cows with their calves. The hay has been cut in the fields and rolled into giant pieces of sushi. Sometimes we see mother deer with their fawn, or a young buck with proud fuzzy antlers. The sun feels full and bright, and there are times we have great grey clouds for the sun to shine through and to give us some welcome rain. The garden is a mess! We are getting some good things to eat and an enormous amount of weeds. There are blooms on the milkweed plant and sometimes a monarch. There's been time to get in the water where the creek flows into the river.

Little has grown more and more into a girl so much that she decided she wants to go to school. The schools are in debate about whether to actually open. Since more of us have been going out, more people are getting sick. In some places by the thousands and thousands. So to prepare for school, Little has started going to summer camp. We are trying to get into a new routine, meeting up in the morning before she goes off. She has developed a real affection for a group of kittens by the barn, and sometimes we meet there, or take a walk with Hekla.

I can't keep the kittens straight. I feel like I can't keep most things straight. All of our work has been cancelled for summer and early fall. We are practicing music and Arrow keeps up with his writing. The flys and bugs certainly are buzzing around us and everything. And the ticks.

What really surprised me is that I got sick. Today, a fever of 102.6. Is this covid??? It could be.

Arrow moved back in last week, and he recently traveled to one of the hot spots where people were getting sick. My roommate found a place with her fellow students to get ready for school. The house here was quiet for a few weeks. And then Arrow moved in with a lot of boxes, books, CDs, his instruments, and all kinds of things. It has been joyful to create a space for ourselves again. There's a real sweetness in being together to cook, play music, read in bed. And then I got sick. Usually, I wouldn't be too worried, but now I have put myself on quarantine, along with Arrow. I don't know what to think. We'll do our best.

This is not the chapter I was expecting to write. I guess it is about shape-shifting in its own way. Each day we keep adjusting. And certainly, I never know what Little B will do next. The spirit of summer is strong here. We are eating bags of ripe luscious southern peaches that Arrow brought back from his trip. And enjoying life the way it is, with all its mighty spirit.